Placental glucose transport in growth-restricted pregnancies induced by overnourishing adolescent sheep

Jacqueline Wallace, D A Bourke, Raymond Aitken, John Milne, William Hay

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65 Citations (Scopus)


Glucose clamp procedures were used to determine whether the slowing of fetal growth during the final third of gestation in overnourished adolescent ewes is due to a reduction in Placental glucose transport capacity. Singleton pregnancies to a single sire were established by embryo transfer and thereafter adolescent dams were offered a high (n = 11) or moderate (n = 7) nutrient intake. Studies were conducted at 130 +/- 0.5 days gestation. Uterine and umbilical blood flows were studied by the steady-state transplacental diffusion technique and glucose fluxes quantified by the Fick principle. To determine the relationship between the transplacental glucose gradient and umbilical (fetal) glucose uptake, studies were conducted with maternal arterial glucose clamped at 5 mumol ml(-1) and fetal glucose at spontaneously occurring and two additional higher levels. Maternal body weight gain during gestation averaged 282 and 57 g day(-1) for high- and moderate-intake dams, respectively. Total placentome weight (209 +/- 23 vs. 386 +/- 34 g) and fetal weight (3072 +/- 266 vs. 4670 +/- 196 g) were lower (P < 0.001) in high- than in moderate-intake groups. The growth-restricted pregnancies in the high-intake dams were associated with reduced uterine (P < 0.05) and umbilical (P < 0.02) blood flows and, in the non-perturbed state, the fetuses were relatively hypoxic (2.1 vs. 3.0 &mu;mol ml(-1), P < 0.05) and hypoglycaemic (0.90 vs. 1.31 mumol ml(-1), P < 0.002). Linear regression analysis of umbilical glucose uptake at three steady-state uterine-umbilical arterial transplacental plasma glucose concentration gradients revealed that absolute placental glucose transport capacity was lower in high- than in moderate-intake dams (mean slope, 0.8 vs. 1.5 dl min(-1), P < 0.05; and mean intercept, 1.84 vs. 3.40 mumol ml(-1)). However, glucose transfer capacity was not different between the two groups when expressed on a placental weight-specific basis. This confirms that the small size of the placenta per se is the major limitation to placental glucose transfer in the overnourished adolescent pregnant sheep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number1
Early online date23 Aug 2002
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2003


  • chronic heat-stress
  • fetal growth
  • prenatal development
  • endocrine status
  • blood flows
  • metabolism
  • uptakes
  • oxygen
  • ewes
  • consumption


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